My column for 24Hrs Vancouver this week: Ministry Meddling is letting kids fall through cracks.

I’d like to start this week by offering congratulations to Brent on our one year anniversary of writing the Duel.

When Brent pointed out that our first Duel had been a debate over the merits of a 10-year deal between teachers and government, I felt more than a little sad that a year later there is still no sign a deal is imminent.

While I agree the bargaining process between the government and the BCTF is fatally flawed, laying the blame for this failure of process strictly on the BCTF for “petulant bargaining and punitive rotating strikes” is a fatal flaw as well. In last week’s Duel, I succinctly demonstrated how the government’s punitive and, at times, illegal actions were responsible for disrupting learning in classrooms for over a decade.

The suggestion that removing the issue of classroom composition from the bargaining process will help is not only preposterous, it shows a complete lack of understanding of how integral the issue is to the education system as a whole

As a parent of a child with special challenges and needs, I have witnessed and experienced — as have thousands of other parents in this province — the failures in our system.

While it is correct that the numbers show a loss of “identified students” over the years, what is not mentioned is why. Those children didn’t just disappear, or stop needing help. The ministry changed how students with needs were designated, which left many children who had previously qualified for help, without any.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

For example, gifted students are no longer recognized, which accounts for thousands of lost numbers. Children with ADHD –regardless of the severity — are also not included and receive no assistance, along with a long list of other disorders that the government refuses to recognize. Not helping these children succeed now costs society far more as they fall through the cracks and mature.

READ, comment and vote for who you think should win this weeks duel at

23 thoughts on “My column for 24Hrs Vancouver this week: Ministry Meddling is letting kids fall through cracks.

  1. Interesting that the BCTF opposes good or excellent teachers getting credit. in the true union way, all teachers must be seen as the same, no good ones no bad ones and this is what we have in classrooms… who needs a tune up?


  2. so the system is a ruin and BCTF screws up… but when YOU have a “special needs ” child it is all about you. If you had no kids what would you REALLY say then?


    1. Your comment is way off base. By your skewed rationale,that would mean I only write about things that directly impact my life, when nothing further could be the truth and as a longer time reader, you should know that.

      If I had no children I would feel the same because I still have friends and readers who have been dealing with the chronic underfunding and systematic stripping of the BC education system.
      Any person can see where this government always points it’s fingers for cuts and it is always the most vulnerable among our population who feel the brunt, whether its seniors, kids with special needs,children living in poverty, people who cant afford lawyers ( cuts to legal aid). Do you see them cutting salaries of friends appointed to sweet positions? Cuts to government spending on their government credit cards? No.

      Clearly the heat must be getting to you or you haven’t read in so long you’ve forgotten what I’ve covered in the past.


  3. I was lucky (especially coming from such lowly peasant stock as my sleuthing into the family tree has revealed) that my kids were both good. In fact, they were designated ‘gifted’ which sounded rather nice at the time. But then I went to a meeting with other parents and teachers of gifted children and it was plain to see that gifted was another name for bored-to-tears and consequently at-risk. Cursed is a better category. Worse than that matter-of-fact finding was the lunacy that passed for addressing the problem. So, I left. In fact, when I left the middle of my last meeting with those ineffective bureaucratic nincompoops, I did so saying, “One thing is for sure. The parents and teachers of so-called gifted children and not necessarily themselves gifted. You guys won’t solve this issue and I suggest that you stay as far away from your kids as can.”


    On Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 7:03 AM, No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile


    1. I agree. People tend to assume because kids are gifted, they can coast along and its not an issue to be dealt with. However as you point out, kids who are bored to tears in class can be a recipe for disaster and the loss of targeted funding for these kids has left many floundering.

      It’s too bad that Christy Clark can’t see that an essential part of ‘ growing the economy” starts with ensuring kids receive a good education and don’t fall through cracks- which costs taxpayers more in the long run when drop outs turn to drugs, crime or social assistance in order to survive.


  4. The corrupt rot in this country, starts at the top. Boessnkool said, the smartest thing Harper has ever done was? He canceled the National Child Care Program.

    Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell was a disgrace, to the people of this province. Campbell had the highest number of Children living in poverty. Campbell had the highest number of Children, going to school hungry. Campbell refused to raise the minimum wage of $8.00 per hour. The Food Bank shelves, were always empty.

    Christy Clark is no different than Harper and Campbell. We know Christy Clark’s view on our BC Children from way back, during Campbell’s reign of horror. If you tweak Christy’s nose she says, families first, families first, families first.


  5. over at Norm Farrell’s blog, Northern Insight, his son, a teacher has written an article/letter. It is worth reading. It is excellent. It just about sums up everything. It ought to be printed in the Vancouver Sun and Province and every local paper in the province.

    There simply isn’t enough money in the system. Christy clark doesn’t care about anyone’s kids except her own, who goes to St. George’s. There is money for education except the lieberals spend it on other things.

    Teachers are a union. It is their job to advocate for more money and better working conditions. Better working conditions mean smaller class sizes. Its just like a union negotiating for a slower assembly line.

    People expect teachers do to the jobs of social works, shrinks, parents, etc. That isn’t their job. They are there to impart knowledge. That is very difficult to do if many don’t have a working knowledge of English, have learning disabilities, are hungry, tired, sick, etc.

    ‘at one time parents volunteered for sports activities and a host of other things. Not today, they are too busy. they want teachers to do it. well its not the teacher’s job. same with the grad ceremonies. that isn’t the teacher’s job but you don’t see parents volunteering to do it. No they are too busy earning a living. So if we want teachers to be everything to each child, then we better start paying for it. My suggestion, they ought all to be making a min. of $100K and no I’m not a teacher, don’t have kids. Classes ought to have no more than 25 kids and every kid with a disability ought to have an aid or not in the class. its just not fair to the rest of the kids. As to English, a kid ought to be kept in English class until they can speak English. then they go into regular classes. right now its just too difficult for the teachers and it isn’t fair to kids who don’t have problems with English.


    1. So then you wouldn’t mind if we have to cut health care and possibly rent subsidies for the poor so that teachers can earn 100k/year which would actually be more like 140k of actual cost factoring in benefits. Oh yeah this should most definitely happen.


        1. Exactly. People forget the past and it’s convenient to blame the teachers, or the health care workers or whoever else is trying to make a living and in decent conditions.

          Former Premier Gordon Campbell cut personal income taxes drastically in the early years of his leadership. That created a massive hole in the provincial revenue stream that was never really filled. It’s been catchup ever since.

          It makes me laugh when any politician loudly states as a point of pride: ” We have the lowest taxes in the country/province/region!”

          It is only a point of pride if province/city has another revenue stream that replaces the loss of tax revenue… and the truth is, most do not. The province certainly doesn’t.Neither do most cities that boast similar statements. For some reason, people do not make the connection between low taxes and what the impact of that is!!

          Raising personal income taxes in the province at a higher income level wouldn’t hurt those income earners, and in fact most higher income earners optimize their tax credits etc to offset any taxes owing or payable. It would generate a phenomenal amount of revenue for the province. But then Christy Clark wouldn’t be able to flash her pearly whites and brag about the lowest taxes….


      1. So you have no problem with the all the corporate subsidies,grants and credits given out to big business in the province? This isn’t just about wages. The courts found the actions and legislation of the government illegal, don’t forget that. Kids have suffered for over a decade as a result of cuts made back in 2001-2002… surprise surprise… when Christy Clark was education minister.


        1. Kids have not suffered anything. It’s the parents that suffer when school is interrupted. Education is delivered in such a painfully slow vehicle that kids can always catch up with ease. The ones that can’t will never be academic stars anyways.

          I do not agree with the carbon tax program and that has hurt schools and hospitals. That did not affect teacher salaries. As far as other grants and credits I think it would be foolish to blanket comment. Each one may or may not have its merit. I tell you that teachers do not work that hard and already get paid too much. I’ve known many teachers over the past few decades and also have teachers in my family and guess what they are not ethical and will cheat every opportunity. They are just greedy guts.


      2. abby, get a grip. why should teachers have to “support” the education system. They are workers and are entitled to fair compensation. Now in many people’s eyes, because it was once a female dominated occupation and it deals with children, doesn’t mean it has to be a low paying job forever. Your suggestion leads one to the theory, workers salaries ought to be kept low, so taxes don’t go up. This has already resulted in hospital cleaner, maintence workers, care aids, etc. being fired in an increasing number of seniors’ facilities and public hospitals. New contracts are let, to the lowest bidder and jobs pay $12 an hr. instead of $18. It is how we become an impoverished society, which in B.C. has resulted in the highest rate of child poverty in Canada.

        While we nickel and dime teachers, the film industry received $284 Million in rebates and tax incentives. Mining has almost a billion coming. We had Christy Clark’s little Bollywood special at $11M. M.L.A.s receive $12K a yr in housing allowances, while they only work 2 months a yr. in Victoria. No receipts required. They buy motor homes, boats and second homes with the money.

        Please try to remember in some schools the entire paper budget is $500 a yr. You know where the money comes from paper in the class room for art, etc. TEACHERS PAY FOR IT OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS. Do you know who pays for some of the food the kids in school eat? TEACHERS PAY FOR IT.

        Higher taxes, or a lets just say a fair share of the taxes for corporations and individuals needs to be paid in this province. When you cut taxes you impoverish a government and thus reduce health care, education, child welfare, etc.


        1. Get a grip yourself there eaf – teachers are overpaid, greedy buggers. They don’t even know what hard work really is and refuse to use technology to assist in and out of the classroom. I don’t agree with their salary demands and I don’t agree with smaller classroom sizes which is just a bunch of BS anyways. As far as composition goes I think that this has been an ongoing saga for decades. Education is getting more and more diluted b/c teachers are catering to the ‘timmys’ and the lowest functioning humans in the classroom. Instead they should be innovators and they are not. They refuse to accountable and they refuse to evaluated always claiming it is unfair. But they claim they should be compensated like a CEO – WTH. Social workers have just as much education and work just as hard etc and earn about 40% less. How is that fair.

          Yes let’s increase taxes what a fab idea.


        2. Abby, just so we’re clear about your point of view, would you mind expanding on a few of the points you make please?

          Can you give us an example of what you mean when you say that teachers refuse to use technology to assist in and out of the classroom?

          Can you give us some examples of who exactly you are referencing when you say “education is getting more and more diluted b/c teachers are catering to the ‘timmys’ and the lowest functioning humans in the classroom?”

          If education is becoming more “diluted” because teachers are catering to someone other than those you feel they should, what solution do you suggest for the problem?

          Are you talking about the average CEO salary in BC vs the average salary teachers would make under their bargaining demands, and if so, what are those numbers?



        3. You are absolutely clueless, and disgusting to boot.
          To talk so disrespectfully about children in the way you do, as well as tarring and feathering a whole profession because you apparently have trust issues with your own family is absurd.
          Deal with your own personal issues, then you can remove the speck in somebody else’s eye.
          Social workers do not earn 40% less. Where do you pull your “statistics” from? You also probably believe that the earth is 6000 years old, right?


  6. I seem to know many, many intelligent, aptitudinally-ideal and well-educated people who would love a shot at one of these teaching jobs. Perhaps all teaching positions should be on strict two-year contracts and open for tendering?

    In a no-growth economy there simply is no justification whatsoever for the salaries these craven, union-friendly governments have bestowed on the coddled, protected, expensive employees with which we have thus burdened today’s and future taxpayers.

    Stick to your guns, Liberals! Because you KNOW what would happen if the former bunch were back in office again.


    1. How could many, many intelligent, aptitudinally-ideal and well-educated people be out of work or working at wages that would have them longing for a shot at a teaching job? Isn’t Christy’s jobs plan working?

      Open for tendering? Every two years? Thirty thousand open tenders every two years for teaching positions? Yeah, that should be easy to administer and would greatly improve stability in the classroom. Nothing like having your children educated by the newest low bidder every year. In any case, the BC Liberals sure don’t use the tendering concept for their friends and insiders when handing out plum appointments or contracts, so why would they do it with teachers?

      No-growth economy? That’s not what the BC Liberals have been telling us. With Christy’s jobs plan (It’s working, you know. Just ask her.), and the trillions of dollars on the way shortly from her LNG plan, why worry about money? She wouldn’t lie to us would she?

      Simply no justification whatsoever for the salaries these craven, union-friendly governments have bestowed on the coddled, protected, expensive employees with which we have thus burdened today’s and future taxpayers? You may not have noticed, but the craven, union-friendly government you reference hasn’t been in office for almost a decade and a half. The coddled, protected, expensive entities with which the current craven, union-bashing government has burdened today’s and future taxpayers are called corporations, and BC Liberal friends and insiders. Not teachers.


  7. Brent Stafford says, “A key part of the team is an educational assistant who provides one-on-one support.”

    Brent is out to lunch if he believes special needs kids get one-on one support. Indeed, a profoundly autistic child doesn’t even bring in enough funding for a full-time aide. Admins and special ed teachers MIGHT be able to timetable and group students so that such a student is always supported — but it’s only through borrowing time off others.

    Brent needs to visit a school for a day.


  8. Harper’s little helper Christy also gifts her kid’s school with close to $300 MILLION per year to St. Georges private school and probably other new now countless private schools.


  9. @abby:
    Fair enough; you had your chance. I’ll take your reply as evidence you can’t explain yourself, and go with my original thought when I read your nonsense; which is that it was written by an ignorant bigot.


Comments are closed.